Volume. XIX, No. 20
Sunday, 28 November 2004

From the pastors heart: Gnosticism in relation to Da Vinci Code

I aim to continue on the subject of Da Vince Code this week again. It is because the book seems to promote an idea that Gnostic materials from the second and third centuries are better and more credible than the four Gospels in the Bible. To understand the Gnostic philosophy, we must begin with its assumption that there is not one but two Gods. One is good God who is above everything and dwells in the light. He does not intervene in material world. Gnosticism also assumes that the God of the Old Testament who is the creator of this material world is demiurge, who is evil.

Frederica Matthews-Green wrote an article “What Heresy” in Books and Culture. In this article she discusses religious experiences. Her article will be very helpful for us to understand the nature of Gnosticism and even modern day Christian experience oriented phenomena. The following is an excerpt from her article quoted in Breaking the Da Vince Code by Darrell L. Bock.

There is such a thing as self-deception, and confusion can bloom in unfamiliar spiritual realms. Though such experiences are indisputably beyond words, after we have them we try to talk about them. We want to share them with others, and we want to check whether we simply flipped out. Say that it’s like going to Paris. Everyone takes a photo of the Eiffel Towel. When we get home, we compare them; some snapshots are fuzzy and some from funny angles, but we can recognize them as depicting the same thing. The snaps don’t capture the reality; nothing can; but they are OK as records. The Creeds are photos everyone agreed on. They are minimal and crisply focused, not fancied-up. They are not a substitute for personal experience, but a useful guide for comparison, for discernment. If someone’s snap shows King Kong climbing up the Tower, we can say, “Hey, you’re off base there. Something’s messing with your head.” If Kong is wearing a lei and a paper party hat we might say, “Aw, now you’re just making stuff up.” That’s what early Christians said to the Gnostics. The problem wasn’t the insistence that we can directly experience God. It was the Gnostic’s schemes of how to do this were so wacky. Preposterous stories about creation, angels, demons, and spiritual hierarchies multiplied like mushrooms. (Even some Christians, like Origen and Clement of Alexandria, dabbled in these fields). The version attributed to Valentinus, the best known Gnostic, is typical. Valentinus supposedly taught a hierarchy of spiritual beings called “aeons.” One of the lowest aeons, Sophia, fell and gave birth to the Demiurge, the God of the Hebrew Scriptures. This evil Demiurge created the visible world, which was a bad thing, because now we pure spirits are all tangled up in fleshly bodies. Christ was an aeon who took possession of the body of the human Jesus, and came to free us from the prison of materiality. “US,” by the way, didn’t mean everybody. Not all people have a divine spark within, just intellectuals; “gnosis,” by definition, concerns what you know. Some few who are able to grasp these insights could be initiated into deeper mysteries. Ordinary Christians, who lacked sufficient brain power, could only attain the Demiurge’s middle realm. Everyone else was doomed. Under Gnosticism, there was no hope of salvation for most of the human race.

The primary focus of this article is that there are differences between the traditional and Scriptural way and Gnostic way of obtaining special knowledge. Gnosticism is not in the same line with Biblical Christianity. Thus, it should not surprise us that early church fathers condemned such teachings. It is also true that some of Gnostic writers had portrayed God with lots of feministic flavors.

Apocryphon of John 2:9-25 depicts God as the Father, the Mother, and the Son. It is no wonder that feminists want to use these Gnostic materials. The Scriptures use male terminology when they refer to God. However, it does not mean that the Scriptures are sexist’s materials, because God is the creator of both male and female, and all human beings (both males and females) are created in the image of God. In any rate, not all Gnostic materials do support feminists’ ideas. A few lines from the Gospel of Thomas 114 say the following: “Simon Peter said to them [the disciples], ‘Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of Life.’ Jesus said, ‘I myself shall lead her, in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit, resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

There are many unsound and unorthodox teachings of Jesus Christ in Gnostic materials. Apocalypse of Peter 81:4-14 says the following:

I saw him apparently being seized by them. And I said, “What am I seeing, O Lord? Is it really you whom they take? And are you holding on to me? And are they hammering the feet and hands of another? Who is this one above the cross, who is glad and laughing?” The Savior said to me, “He whom you saw being glad and laughing above the cross is the Living Jesus. But he into whose hands and feet they are driving the nails is his fleshly part, which is the substitute. They put to shame that which remained in his likeness. And look at him, and [look at] me!”

Without much difficulty, we can see that this quote tells us about two Jesuses: One is the living Lord and the other Savior Jesus. The one crucified on the cross was the substitute of the heavenly Jesus. Thus, the crucified one was only earthly and fleshly substitute. The Second Treatise of the Great Seth 56:6-9 reads as following: “It was another . . . who drank the gall and the vinegar; it was not I. They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. It was another upon whom they placed the crown of thorns. But I was rejoicing in the height . . . over their error.” Whatever this passage says of Jesus and His suffering for our sins, one thing is very clear. There is no incarnated God in this teaching. God is too transcendent to become a man. In this case, Da Vinci Code does not accurately reflect the nature of Jesus because it reflects too much of humanity of Jesus even to have married to a woman. Thus, Da Vinci Code really does not get any help from gnostic materials, though it claims some of their teachings. Gnostics believed in a direct access to revelation. Their way of salvation was through the secret knowledge given to them by the heavenly Revealer-Savior, who is associated to the heavenly Father, the Pleroma of the upper world. He is different from the Creator of this material universe. As we can see, Gnosticism is un-Christian and un-Biblical. Hope that some of your questions have been answered by now.

Lovingly, Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



Shorter Catechism Question 78: What is forbidden in the ninth commandment? The ninth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever is prejudicial to truth, or injurious to our own or our neighbour’s good name.

Please pray for healing for Rev George van Buuren, Rev Peter Clements; Sisters Nan van Buuren, Myung Ki, Aranka Rejtoe (in Hampstead Hospital) & Susan Varadi “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil 4:13).

Please pray for Pastor Ki (Adel), Sisters Amanda Fu (S’pore), Serene Wong (Adel), Maureen Tan, Quin, Catherine and Grace (SA, Vic, NSW); Missionaries and believers in Cambodia; High school & university students preparing for their exams; Bro Hai Seng Lim - ministering in N Thailand; Missions Team’s preparation to Cambodia in Jan 10-31; & Preparations for the Christmas Concert 2004.

Praise and thank God for - journey mercies granted to Pastor Ki (S’pore), Rev George van Buuren, Sisters Aiji Chong (Adel), Sophine Bai, Jasmin Chua, Serene Wong (Sydney), Emily Gan (Melb), & Clara Sim (S’pore), Brothers Jemmy Lao, & David Paauwe (Perth), & Chilton Chong (Melb); all those who helped out at working bee yesterday; Sis Sally Law and participants at Sunday School Teachers’ Training course; & Ebenezer BPC’s 5th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service today.

Deepest sympathy and God's comfort to Rev and Mrs James White, and Mrs Helen Jenkins and family, on the home going of Rev Andy Jenkins.

Christmas Concert: Saturday, 11 Dec, at Concordia Chapel. Invites on the literature table. Helpers needed for the night - please see Dn David Yeo.

Looking Ahead: Sunday School Christmas Party on 18 Dec at 2pm. Helpers required. Please notify Dn Edwin D’Mello if you can help. Invites on the literature table.



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